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Discussion Starter #1
I have the track down for my expanded layout (32' x 24' with 15 remote switches) and have been running trains! But I've noticed a few little "glitches" with FasTrack. Everybody else may already know this, but I thought I'd document it here.

It would seem that on about 5% of the straights or full curves the jumper under the roadbed which connects the outside rails is an intermittent connection - I believe this is because the tabs are just pressed down. When I find a problem like this I put a drop of solder on the tab and jumper for each rail, which cures the problem. I do wonder if over time other jumper connections might become intermittent? If so, soldering the jumpers which appear good might still be good to do proactively.

I do try to remember to do the "center pin bend" step Lionel recommends in one of their videos, but I haven't been consistent. If I now need to take apart sections of track for any reason (most commonly now to add a switch or uncoupler) I disconnect the sections of track on either side and solder the jumpers (or add a jumper wire between the outside rails) and slightly bend the center pins. I hope this makes the track more reliable in the future: "It ain't no fun if the trains won't run."
 

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This is a common complaint with a lot of Lionel switches, started in the old days with O22 switches and tubular track. On of the first things we did was open up the switches and solder all the tab "connections". I did the same thing with Fastrack switches, big improvement.
 

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"They don't make 'em like they used to."

All the connections in my early metal Marx switches are soldered or terminal post. A little restoration, some tweaking and they're work great.
 

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I have never had a problem with my Fastrack or Fastrack switches.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
That's great, Denny. One thing I have noticed is that the track I acquired 4 years ago did not suffer the reliability issues that the track I got last month has. I don't know if this means there was just one bad batch and I got it, or if the QC in China might be slipping. Either way, I'm starting to spend a little time with a soldering iron to (hopefully) eliminate future issues.
 

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Give it some time Denny, temperature cycling and age work wonders with simple folded-over tin and electrical connectivity. :D
I've had my track since 2012. I've only had to replace one turn out because it stopped switching. I clean it twice a year and I'm good to go.
 

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I have had fantastic luck with Fastrak switches. I had up to 16 on my layout about ten years ago and never had any problems. But I changed my layout about ten years ago, and have had only two for the past ten years, but they are at the junction of reversing loops so they switch once each time the train goes around the loop. Given how often I run trains and all, that means they are nearing at least 90,000 self-operating operations each as they cycle back and forth as trains go through their loop, and they still work perfectly.

What I will mention is I did learn that they do not work well if installed so they are anything but absolutely flat. It they are bent or warped even slightly as installed (due to say the track they are attached to torquing them slightly, or be screwed down to an uneven surface, then they work less dependably and maybe would wear out quicker.
 

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Huh. 90K. When I developed my Marx switch non-derailing / non-burnout solution using a basic SRD relay, I thought its nominal 100K electrical lifespan would never be tested. Who knew :)
 

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Yes, they mount up. I have not actually counted them but estimate them this way:
  • I run my trains about 5 to 6 days a week. Keep it simple and say 300 days a year.
  • I've run the current track configuration for ten years = 3000 days.
  • I run them about 3 hours a day on average I figure: 9000 hours.
  • My mainline # 2 is a dogbone that takes my trains about three minutes to make it around = 20 passes around that mainline ever hour ==> 180,000 passes.
  • Each end of the dogbone is a reversing loop with a Fastrak switch at the Y junction, with its self activating return switching: one of the other operates each time the train makes a complete pass around the loop, so each operates every other time equal half the passes ==>90,000 auto switching operations per switch.
 

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Doesn't the switch at each end of the dogbone activate every time a train completes the mainline loop? Since which ever way the train enters a reversing loop, it will exit the reversing loop from the other side of the Y.
 
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